Isat in silence the morning of the 9th, coffee cup in hand, staring at a wall. Having had no sleep, I was thinking about how to talk to my children about what had just occurred with this election, when I began to get a series of texts, IMs and emails from individuals in my life who all asked the same question – what do we do now?
I thought about this long and hard. Do we fight? Do we “listen to the will of the people?” Some, perhaps fatigued by the whole process, are already calling for “unity” and to “give Trump a chance.” This suggestion overlooks the fact that what our current President Elect symbolizes is the worst of this country. It cannot be normalized. I choose not to pretend this is a normal time and a transition of power.
With the rise of the orange ogre, we also get the rise of the Trump “deplorables” who now feel liberated enough to victimize all communities who they deem merit their ire, including Latinos, Blacks, Muslims, LGBTQ and feminist women.
We are seeing this already. NY Daily News Writer Shaun King has been documenting hate crimes and assaults on his twitter feed, as are others – and it’s horrifying. We now have KKK victory parades, swastikas flying high over homes, and a steady stream of harassment and insults happening in our streets.
We should anticipate that this will continue to happen, and that the system will do little to help us. What can we do to protect ourselves and also function during this time? I thought about this for two days and picked the things that I thought would be most relevant to communities of people like myself, who struggle both in the streets and in the work environment to stand for what’s right while understanding they have to do what’s necessary to provide for themselves and their families.
So to those of you who understand the true magnitude of this sea change, let me present some ideas on how we can survive and potentially come out of this era a stronger country. Most ideas are not new, just practical suggestions that should be done under any circumstance, but they seem to me as especially crucial now.
Get Our Financial Houses in Order
We do not know how the economy will be affected by the new attitude on global trade or how business will shift in its treatment of workers. What we do know, is that downturns in the economy often affect women and people of color disproportionately. We must prepare for any scenario so that we are not further victimized with reduced financial resources. There are many ways to do this, but the major tenets are to reduce debt, start accumulating savings, and reduce spending. Saving for rainy days is not something new, but it’s a cornerstone of helping to prepare for hard times.
We must look for different vehicles for financial transactions. Community banks, credit unions, lending groups are a start. For those of us with investable assets, start an investment fund with friends. When pharma, defense and private prison stocks are the highest performers in the post-election trading – we know that the big funds will be investing in institutions that don’t have our best interests. Let’s make efforts to make direct investments in community businesses and startups by members of our community. Security comes with control over our own money.
Help Institutions that Help Us
We should not expect assistance programs to have the same support as before. We will be asked to donate to causes that support and protect communities in need, be it community health organizations like Planned Parenthood, anti-defamation organizations; immigrant rights groups, educational institutions – give what you can, because cutting these institutions are going to be the focus of the new regime. They will need our support. If you can’t give money, give time. Volunteer, fundraise, provide needed services like legal or accounting. Whatever you can to see them through.
Stop the Virtual Life. Get a Real One
So many of us live for the selfie, or spend too much of our lives online. Let’s peel ourselves away from the screens and focus on the world of the real. Create something. Start a business. Write that screenplay or musical, draw or paint that image in your head, finish that book. Our communities need to have our voices heard and our stories told. In an era where people are being made to feel less safe, seeing themselves reflected in art and culture is a powerful thing. Moreover, support people’s efforts to create by attending, reading, and buying their work.